Tag Archives: publishing

Seattle’s Book Ecosystem

I recently was tasked with writing an article on Seattle’s publishing scene. I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle it, seeing as Seattle wasn’t home to scores of big publishing houses and literary agencies. But it does have a thriving community around books. And when I talked with Gary Luke, President and Publisher of Sasquatch Books, everything became clear. “I think there’s less of a publishing scene and more of a book ecosystem in Seattle,” he told me. Rather than just editors and agents comingling, the publishing landscape in Seattle is more of a literary pastiche, and the result is a vibrant, active community of people and businesses coming together around books in all their various forms. “There are publishers here,” Luke said. “But along with that, I’d include bookstores, the Richard Hugo House, food bloggers, 826 Seattle, the libraries, Hedgebrook, Town Hall and, of course, Amazon.”

With this, the article took shape and the result is a profile of a literary, creative, generous, book-lovin’ community. Read the article here.

(Photo: Josh Trujillo/Seattle P-I)

What it means to be an author in 2013

It’s hard out here for a pimp.

It’s also hard for a writer. In fact, sometimes I feel like a pimp. Occasionally, I feel like a whore. Let me explain.

When I quit my publishing job to pursue a freelance career, I had a vision of sitting around coffee shops, schmoozing and writing and living off massive royalty checks.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ve cobbled together a pastiche of projects that keep me gainfully employed. In an ideal world, I’d be able to just focus on writing projects I’m passionate about. Again, didn’t happen. Working for yourself is hard, harder than most people can imagine. Not only do I have to produce around the clock, I also have to act as business manager and entrepreneur (enter The E Myth). An accomplished author, I still have to hustle like the rent is due.

Because it is.

While I have done many ignominious jobs that have kept me humble and solvent, these days I focus on the following:

  • Writing (and subsequently promoting) books that blow my skirt up
  • Taking on random freelance articles for beauty sites, travel magazines and a pupu platter of media outlets
  • Writing columns for today.com’s book page
  • College lectures based on my books (more on that at Samara Lectures)
  • A part-time job at THAT large Redmond tech company

In addition to the above (and I’m probably forgetting a couple of things), I have the good fortune to help other writers develop book proposals that will get serious consideration from publishers or agents. With my business partner Kerry Colburn, a close friend and fellow author and publishing professional who I met on the job 17 years ago, we started The Business of Books to share our knowledge of publishing and experience reviewing and writing countless proposals.

It’s as gratifying as anything I’ve ever done. I’ve never had much of a desire to teach, but man, is it addictive. Watching our workshop attendees be inspired and motivated has been a joy. Hearing that they landed a book deal, well, we feel like proud parents. Don’t get me wrong—they did it themselves. They polished their proposal, sent out submissions, and soldiered on through rejections.

My heart is full thinking of all of these newly published authors. And while it can be hard out here for a writer, sometimes it doesn’t feel like work.

Presales bode well for Punch in the Face

I’ve always said that writing my books are only half of my job. As an author, it’s also my responsibility to do everything I can to promote, market, and handsell each title for optimal sales performance. See, I love seeing my name in print (I’m as vain and proud as they come) but if the only copies are the author copies on my shelf, there’s not much point. I want to share what I’ve created with as many people as possible. That means beefing up my amazon page, reaching out to local booksellers, seeking out every media opportunity, and trying to walk that fine line of annoying and motivating my social media networks with my frequent posts.

Of course, I do this in cooperation with my publishers. Ideally, in the world of book publicity, you want to create a blitz of publicity and marketing in a two-week period when the book first hits stores. The more media hits you get, the likelier that a potential book-buyer will hear about your book in more than one place. I think there’s a belief that you have to see something in seven places before it sticks in your grey matter. Two weeks isn’t much time to make this happen so we are working now for Things I Want to Punch in the Face’s October publicity date. We’ve set August 23 as the amazon preorder date; ordering one or several copies on this date will help amazon’s algorithmic ordering system to take notice of the book. I’m also setting up book events in Seattle bookstores and beyond. We are reaching out to long-lead media for hits in publications, on radio, and online (and if you have any suggestions or contacts for media, I’m all ears!).

I think we’ve got a shot at getting this particular book into a lot of hands (that’s my cautiously optimistic way of saying we could sell a buttload of books). My publisher (Prospect Park Media) called me today to let me know that Urban Outfitters, a purveyor of hip, funny gift books, nearly doubled their initial order, sending us back to press for a second printing. And the books just hit the warehouse this week! The books haven’t even hit the market and we’re reprinting. That’s pretty darn cool. And it makes this part of my job a little easier.